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July 28, 1971 - Image 3

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Michigan Daily, 1971-07-28

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Wednesday, July 28, 1971


Page Three

W~dnesday, July 28 1971 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Three

"WE HAD a hell of a
battle with a mental in
here once," recalls Under-
sheriff Harold Owings as
he stands in the door of
the jail's "psycho-cell."
"It took eight of us to
'cuff him to a stretcher."
i N
(Continued from Page 1)
in order to bring it up to acceptable stan-
9 "We need a greatly improved kitchen
and a dining area," Owings says. Pres-
ently, there is no dining room at the jail
and all meals must be eaten in the pri-
soners' cells.
* "We need a classroom and training
k facilities for a rehabilitation program."
There are currently no rehabilitation pro-
grams offered at the jail and no space to
offer any.
f "We need exercise and recreation fa-
cilities." The lack of recreation equipment
and exercise is a perennial complaint
amongst jail inmates.
# "We need a chapel for religious serx-
* "We need a hospital ward for the care
of inmates." The jail has no facilities for
the treatment of physically or mentally ill
inmates, Owings says.
* "We need an improvement in security
procedures, including the installation of
closed circuit television cameras to reduce
the number of assaults among inmates and
smuggling of weapons."
Though Owings says there has been no
escape from the jail "for two or three
years - the last one went through Fred-
land's air conditioner"-the problems are
increased, the officers say, when the jail
population is as high as it is.
* "We need an elevator capable of
handling patients on stretchers." Though
Fredland thinks that the need for an ele-
vator is small-"we can carry a stretcher
down the stairs-the officers point out that
the elevator is required by state law.
. "We need a larger jail." There is no
room for expansion of the present facility,
Fredland says, and the present capacity of
135 should be almost doubled to "250 in the
next few years."
This year the county will spend $27,000
on the jail for remodeling, according to
the Captain, just to bring the jail up to ac-

and inmates criticize jail

ceptable standards "mostly in areas of
operations, processing and visiting."
None of the money is earmarked for im-
proving the conditions in which jail in-
mates live.
Although a few years ago most of the
jail's inmates were misdemeanor cases,
now, Sheriff's officers say, the majority
of the men and women in the jail are serv-
ing time for felony convictions.
Men convicted of such serious offenses
as "murder, manslaughter and the like,"
are kept in individual cells.
Men convicted of less serious offenses
are kept in larger cells and those not yet
convicted and awaiting trial are usually
confined in large cells with 25 or more
First offenders are often given the status
of "trustee" which entitles them to roamto
the jail almost at will, watch television and
earn up to five days remission per month
for working as janitors, car washers or
In the basement and on the first floor
of the jail there are three special cells.
The "psycho-cell" on the first floor is
for what Undersheriff Owings calls "men-
The psycho - cell is used, Owings says,
"for prisoners who are suicidal, or going
through withdrawal or D.T.'s (withdrawal
from alcohol)."
The bars of the cell are covered by a
layer of thick steel mesh, "to stop prison-
ers from hanging themselves from the
bars," and for sanitation there is a drain
in the center of the floor.
"We had a hell of a battle with a men-
tal in here once," Owings recalls. "The
guy was about 240 pounds and 6'4".
"It took eight of us to 'cuff him to a
stretcher and take him to the state hos-
"The funny thing is," Owings continues,
"that when he's sober he's the nicest guy
in the world - each time it happens he

-Day-Jim Judkis
"THE ONLY REAL solution is a new jail," says the Undersheriff. At present, the
Washtenaw County Jail is sadly deficient and overcrowded.

usually calls up and says 'I hope I didn't
hurt anybody."'
The "incorrigible cells" are located in
the jail's basement. As in the psycho-cell,
the bunks are simply concrete slabs, but
here there are toilets and a supply of
drinking water.
Both incorrigible cells were occupied
during a recent tour of the jail. In one, a
naked "mental" ranted while, in the other,
a young man pleaded to be let out to a
regular cell,
"Captain, I'm all right now, honest, just
get me out of here away from that nut,"
he asked calmly.
"You're feeling better are you?" Chief

Woman s touch at

Mrs. Douglas Harvey is no women's
liberationist. The wife of the Washte-
naw County Sheriff has made police
work a career of her own, apting as
kitchen supervisor and matron of the
Washtenaw County Jail.
Margaret Harvey, 38, doesn't mind
working under the jurisdiction of her
husband. In fact, she says that most
sheriff's wives in Michigan have simi-
lar jobs.
"Sheriff's wives have always worked
in kitchens at the jails," she says. "It's
that way in almost every county in
Michigan. In fact, when Doug and I
went to a sheriff's convention a little
while ago, we'd sit down and meet
people and the first thing the. ladies
would start talking about would be
their kitchens."
A matron for "five or six years,"
Harvey has been interested in police
work for a much longer period of time.
"Doug's been a policeman all his life

and it just sort of runs in the family,"'
she says. "I don't think my kids will
get into the business, though."
Her husband has been county sheriff
since 1966.
As a matron, her duties include sup-
ervision of the jail's female prisoners-
usually numbering less than it's eight
to twelve female capacity. She shares
these tasks with six other women.
The supervisory duties include ac-
companying inmates to court during
their trials, watching them during their
weekly phone call and family visit-
the only time they are allowed to leave
their cells-bringing books to the pri-
soners, and talking to them.
"It can get pretty dull-for them, just
sitting around in there," she says.
"When I have time I just go in to talk,
to them."
Harvey says she's never had any
serious trouble with prisoners who
didn't like her, but "of course, I don't
think any of them are particularly- at-
tached to me," she laughs.

local jail
But "you can get through to even
the worst mental, if you're kind and
gentle," she adds. "They realize it's
not your fault - it's their fault that
they're here."
Harvey says she needed no special
training for the job. "It just takes com-
mon sense. You have to deal with these
addicts, menials, drunks and junkies.
"If they get nasty, you just let them
talk and you nod and keep saying 'yes,
you're right.' You know they're bitter,
so you just listen."
But sometimes, Harvey -says, the
problem is deeper than that for a grow-
ing number of women are being picked
up on drug charges.
"The officers see them staggering
around the streets and think ,hey're
drunk. So they bring them to jail.
Sometimes it's really sad," she says.
"We don't have facilities to take care
of some of these people."
Still, Harvey enjoys her work. It's
"very interesting," she smiles. "You
meet all different kinds of people."

Turnkey Kennth Schultz said. "OK, I'll see
what I can do."
"The majority of these fellows are pret-
ty nice guys," says Owings as he walks
down the narrow corridors of the jail,
pausing to look through peepholes into
cells on his way. "They just have bad
habits when it comes to stealing."
Not all the prisoners in the jail have
been convicted of stealing, or anything
else, and much of their bad feeling stems
from what they see as the inordinate
amount of time they spend awaiting trial.
One prisoner complains bitterly that he
has spent two months in the jail await-
ing trial on a charge of drunkenness. He
says he asked to change his plea to guilty
and the court set a trial date of August 15.
"I'll have been here 90 days for being
drunk," he complains, and I haven't even
been sentenced yet,"
Some inmates complain of the amount
of time they have spent "on steel" in the
mattressless receiving cells. --
One inmate claims he has spent six days
"on the steel," and another says he has
been there for five days.
Jail officials say that the delay in trans-
fering inmates to regular cells is caused
by overcrowding.
Other prisoners complain about the
quality of the food served in the jail.
"There's no seasoning . . . it's cold . . .
it's of poor quality," say inmates.
A typical day's menu consists of cereal
for breakfast, lasagne and tea for lunch
and sandwiches, cookies and coconut pud-
ding for supper.
"Well, it's not bad food, but if you're
used to eating a lot between meals and can
have whatever you want, it's not very
good," admits the jail kitchen supervisor
and matron, Mrs. Douglas Harvey.
Prisoners are irked by the jail regula-
tion forbidding them to lay on their bunks
during the day. The no-bunk rule is neces-
sary, Owings says, because "if they sleep
during the day they're up fighting, playing
See COUNTY, Page 6

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